Getting consumers to make a buying decision, especially with B2B email marketing, is no walk in the park. But when done right, you can generate a ton of business with the power of email. It has been done in the past, and it can be done again. How you carry out this marketing depends on the type of business you run and the customers you’re targeting.
You should already know that B2B is all about buying/selling of products/services or exchanging information between multiple business entities. This should reflect in how you design your email marketing campaign. You can’t take a random approach and expect to see results.
A well-thought out email marketing strategy will give your B2B business a real boost. Which is why it’s one of the most preferred forms of online marketing in the B2B sector.
B2B VS B2C Email Marketing
Now, when it comes to email marketing, B2C or Business to Consumer best practices are well-known and are being regularly applied by various business in the B2C sector. However, things are different with B2B or Business to Business email marketing.
Even though your emails are read by real people running real businesses, you can’t take the same old B2C route. In other words, you can’t use B2C email tactics and expect to see positive results. B2B email marketing differs not in one but in many areas. The sooner you understand and apply this, the better it is.
The biggest difference between a B2C and a B2B relationship is how you generate business. When you’re running a B2C business, you focus on connecting with your consumer on an emotional level so that you can persuade them to purchase your product. But on the B2B side of things, you connect with other business entities based on pure logic.
Unless and until you understand and help prospective customers understand the logic behind buying your product or service, you won’t be able to reach your true business goals. Which means your marketing initiatives should all be about what actually matters to other businesses and how you can deliver the right experience to them.
Before we jump into how you can develop a B2B email marketing plan, it is important to first get an understanding of how, as a business, you can make the most of B2B email marketing to get the word out about your brand. Because if you haven’t built the right foundation, then even the most robust B2B email marketing plan won’t help you find success.
Go Beyond One Email
If you have read about email marketing online, you may be aware of the fact that your prospect needs to be exposed to your offer via email more than once (at least seven times) to make a purchasing decision.
This rule doesn’t change for B2B. In fact, it gets even stronger. Because B2B purchases often require a bigger investment when compared to B2C. So you will not find customers buying your product or service on pure impulse.
As a B2B email marketer, you will have to work to make a favorable impression on other businesses and educate them more with each step. This translates to a longer buying cycle. Remember, expecting your B2B email recipients to buy from you on the first email will only result in disappointment.
Your B2B campaign needs to contain multiple emails that are spread intelligently over a long period of time, depending on the type of product you sell and how big of an investment it requires. For example, this could mean you design an “event-driven” email marketing campaign focused on nurturing every lead you receive.
To start it off, send them a welcome email once they join your email list. This is a must for every brand since 75% of users actually expect to receive a welcome message right after they sign up to your list. And according to eMarketer, 90% of these new leads go cold after an hour. That’s why including this welcome message in your email marketing is vital to fuel your new leads’ interest in your brand.
Educate Instead of Sell
B2B email marketing works great when you focus on creating and sending content that educates rather than pushing a direct offer that entices to buy or try your product. Your B2B recipient will be in a better buying position if you tell them about the product or the problem it solves via email, before moving on to the selling part, which can be done on your website.
A study conducted by B2B email marketing agency Admitter found that 90% of the Call to Action link text containing “more info” performed better than CTA text containing “buy now”. This supports the view that educating instead of selling absolutely works. AdRoll conducted a similar study on Facebook in which “Shop Now” buttons were used more often, but the “Learn More” buttons saw a higher CTR.
B2B recipients are careful about investing in the right product or service. Which is why it makes sense to inform them about the options they have and offer them more clarity with the help of useful/entertaining content. You can also support your content with credible references, scientific research, case studies, etc. If you think your B2B email recipients will get excited about your product only by looking at its benefits, think again.
Professionals in the B2B sector want to consume content that is engaging and riveting at the same time. So when you find and create content that conveys your message creatively, you win. In a way, you are selling the content before selling the product at different stages of the buyer decision.
Segment Emails the B2B Way
When you’re approaching the B2B sector with email marketing, remember that the final purchase decision is usually made by more than one person in authority. So when deciding whether to buy a product or not, a group of individuals call the shots. This group of people forms the DMU or the Decision Making Unit.
As you craft your email messages, you need to create them from the perspective of each person in the DMU. Because each will view your B2B emails from their own angle. You can call this email list segmentation of the next level.
The people in the DMU have different roles in the company and have targets/goals corresponding to these very roles. For instance, a Chief Operating Officer won’t face the same challenges as the Chief Technical Officer. They are bound to have different priorities and concerns to deal with.
Your aim is to address the pain or pressure points concerning the executive you are targeting. This automatically leads to more engagement and better long term results via email marketing. So before you fire away any emails, spend some time strategizing your B2B email marketing. Segment and target more precisely by gathering necessary data about each important person in the company beforehand.
Steps on Developing a B2B Email Marketing Plan that Works
In order to find real success with B2B email marketing, it is crucial that you create a solid B2B email marketing plan that resonates with your business goals. Having a proper plan will not only help you gain more immediate clarity, but will also let you craft better emails in the future.
Let us look into the five essential steps that you need to take to create a B2B email marketing plan that can give you real-world results.
Step #1: Know What Businesses to Target
Understanding your target audience is the first step towards creating a result-oriented email marketing plan. When marketing in the B2B sector, you need to get to the core of the challenges various businesses are facing in your target market. This not only allows you to approach the right business entities, but it also gives you clarity on improving your own product. Your target market may be small, but as long as your business is able to provide solutions that work for it, you will see your email marketing campaign thrive.
The number one rule of generating more business, especially in the B2B segment, is learning as much as you can about your target market so that you’re able to deliver products and services that match their needs. This may seem like a simple step, but when you do it right, you set up a strong foundation for your B2B email marketing.
When you’re doing your market research and understanding how various businesses can benefit from your company, you need to focus on the best way to approach them via email. For example, if your target industry sees a high email open rate when using a particular type of subject line, then make sure to use it more. The same logic applies to the kind of language you use in your emails and the type of content you send to your B2B recipients.
Don’t ignore even the smallest of things such as the call to action links in email, as it can significantly help you get more leads. The deeper you know your target market and how they approach email, the more precise your email marketing results will be.
To illustrate further, let’s say your company deals with helping companies keep their computers up and running, safe from any viruses or hacking attempts. Unless and until you know which of the companies need your security services for their machines, it would be difficult for you to create an email marketing campaign tailored towards them. The idea is to be focused connecting with your target businesses and learning which one of them would most likely work with your company.
The emails that you send out should reflect your values and simultaneously show your B2B recipients that you have done your homework. Let them know that you know the kind of problems they’re facing and how your product/service can help them. Make sure to educate them rather than sell, because that’s how you ultimately get to more conversions.
Last but not the least, in your quest to understand your target audience, don’t ignore the obvious pain points that your team is already aware of. As these may guide you towards business entities that have a very high chance of converting into a customer. Have a healthy balance between what you already know about your market and what you ought to know.
Step #2: Define Your B2B Customer Persona
If you want your B2B email marketing campaign to be successful, you need to start by defining who your target customer is. In other words, you should be fully aware of your target customer persona to craft the right emails. Even though your target customer persona is just an “imaginary” representation of your ideal business customer, it goes a long way in helping you achieve the needed clarity.
Here is how you can define your B2B target customer persona for your email marketing campaign:
- Since the service or product you are selling is solving a problem for your target business or company, you need to first know what challenges your ideal customer is facing. Is your product solving the right problems? What are the challenges your target companies might be going through? How can your service or product help them in the best possible way?
- Next, understand what type of businesses you are targeting with your offering. When you know the kind of company you are marketing to, it gets easier to define your target customers. Besides the industry of your target company, you should know the size of it, the number of employees it has, etc.
- As we discussed above, there might be different people within the company who are authorized to purchase products. You need to determine the job title of the person who will most likely be purchasing your product for the company. What role do they play? Is it director level? Or the manager level? What is their typical job description? What kind of products they typically buy?
- Your target persona will obviously have goals to reach within the company. They have job responsibilities to fulfill. Which is why you need to find out how the company measures their performance. Ask yourself, how are they growing their career within the organization? What according to them counts as success? What will they do different as a result of using your product?
- Last but not the least, knowing how your B2B target persona connects and interacts with other vendors is important. Why? Because you need to offer the right buying experience to your prospective customers in order to close the sale. They should be able to purchase from you in line with their current expectations. How will you sell to them? Are they comfortable buying the product directly via email? Or they first want to connect over the phone? Or they want to meet in person after having an interaction via email?
By getting a clearer picture of your B2B target customer persona, you will know what type of companies your email marketing will be aimed at. Which in turn improves the focus of your overall online marketing efforts.
Step #3: Create Measurable Email Marketing Goals
Goals or objectives are extremely important for a B2B company because without them, it would be very difficult to achieve growth and measure long-term success. Making your B2B email marketing campaign work starts with your business goals that lead to better and more targeted email marketing goals. Meeting your goals will help you solidify your position in the market and as well as in front of your existing customers.
Now, when it comes to setting goals, you can’t just set them in a random manner. You need to ensure that each goal you set is smart and measurable in nature so that gauging success becomes simpler, and more scientific. B2B email marketing goals are not difficult to set. In fact, if you know what you want to achieve from your online marketing and have the clarity about growing your business, you will naturally set the right goals.
However, some B2B companies may end up setting broader goals in the quest to achieve them quickly. This is a mistake that you should avoid at all costs because it’ll cost you both, subscribers and sales.
Instead of setting a vague goal like “to get more leads”, set something that is more tangible or measurable in nature. “To get 35% more email leads and 20% more phone leads for product XYZ in the month of December” sounds more targeted and even appealing. The difference between a vague objective and a measurable one is the kind of results you are able to generate.
As a B2B company, initially it may seem complicated or downright confusing to create reachable goals. But it can be done efficiently if you have a discussion with your colleagues on what exactly you want to achieve with your email marketing campaign and have a set date for achieving this realistic goal. This should all be noted down in quantifiable terms so that the goals you end up creating can be measured as you execute your campaign.
For instance, a B2B company that serves technology companies may be interested in generating qualified leads with their email marketing efforts. Whereas a fashion company may want to generate more awareness about its brand and get more exposure to its products.
So go ahead and make friends with numbers (dollars, percentages, dates, etc.) if you want to create precise, measurable goals. Because once you have the right B2B email marketing goals set, the next steps become easier.
Step #4: Stay a Step Ahead By Planning in Advance
When creating an email marketing plan, it helps to plan things in advance with your team so that everybody is on the same page when the campaign is launched. So make sure to write a detailed list of what is going to go in your plan and how it will be implemented by the team.
Your team needs as much clarity as you to make sure your B2B email marketing is a success. If you ignore this step and implement before everyone else on the team has grasped the core concepts, then there will be problems, and maybe even clashes of interests.
Here’s what all needs to be clear in order to optimize your email marketing strategy well in advance:
- Communicating company ideas that can spark meaningful conversations around the product, the brand or even the problem your product is going to solve.
- Analyzing results based not only on the click-through rates in the email but also on how many prospects moved to the next stage of the buying cycle as a result of the email.
- Segmenting the prospects based on different factors such as how long they have been on your list, what kind content they have been exposed to, what enticed them to join your company’s email list, etc.
- Customizing email messages based on what time they are being sent, who they are being sent to and what purpose they seek to achieve.
- Testing each email campaign to determine how responses can be improved and how more conversions can be generated by tweaking the email copy, landing page, etc.
- Following up with prospects and answering their queries or last minute doubts that may be stopping them from moving forward in the buying cycle and actually doing business with you.
If you are in the position of authority in your company, it may be natural for you to get too focused on a new product/service and in the same excitement, promote it aggressively via email. Initially this may seem positive since you’re taking action, but it can work against you because without properly optimizing your email marketing campaign, you are leaving money on the table.
Keeping all team members in the loop, or at least the relevant ones, can help you get enough feedback to improve your campaign and achieve a better return on investment.
Step #5: Analyze What’s Working & What’s Not
Once you are done creating a solid B2B email marketing plan for your company, you may think it’s enough. However, you need to revisit your plan and analyze to see where it can be improved. Depending on how your company operates, you should do a weekly, monthly or even a quarterly analysis of the email marketing techniques/tactics you are applying, and see how you can take them to the next level.
Now, analyzing and tweaking your B2B email marketing plan doesn’t mean you mess around with what is already working. If you are getting the kind of results you had anticipated, then there is no need to make major changes. But when you find that even after putting in the right efforts, email marketing isn’t working for your company, then it’s time go back to the drawing board.
If you’re unable to meet your goals, then instead of completely scraping a tactic, see why it isn’t working and if it can be fixed with a minor change. Experiencing low click-through rate? See if the copy is action oriented and if your call to actions are inline with your message. Not enough recipients open emails? Then your subject line may be at fault. Have a high bounce rate? Then you should make your landing page more sticky with a relevant and engrossing copy.
Taking out time to assess your email marketing campaign and improving it from time to time is something which will help you survive, where your competitors failed. You can also stay ahead of your competitors by hiring an email marketing firm to grow your contacts list, send your emails, and gain leads for you. Contact us today if you’d like to discuss how our business can help yours grow.